Anne BackeAnne Backe is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Australia
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I chose to study abroad because I felt as though it was the ultimate form of student involvement. I wanted to become more cultured and to literally expand my horizons, opinions, and knowledge base. I chose to go to Australia for a semester because it was an English speaking option but very far from home as well as actually very cultured and different from America. I was unsure if Australia would be somewhere I could travel later on in life so I wanted to take advantage of that opportunity while going abroad at CSB/SJU.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
The most cultural experience on my trip was our school excursion. We traveled up north in Western Australia for an Aboriginal experience. While we were disappointed not to be going to Broome like previous trips, going to New Norcia and Shark Bay was a great compromise. Despite knowing little about the Aboriginal culture coming into the trip, I soon realized the importance the culture held in Australian culture. We stayed in the New Norcia mission which originally housed children from the Stolen Generations and also got a modern perspective of Aboriginals channeling their heritage through activities like fishing, kayaking, digeridoo playing, and much more. The Aboriginal culture not only gave me insight into Australia's indigenous culture but gave me insight into our own indigenous culture.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My overall study abroad experience was incredible. Australia is an indescribable country. While I only saw a fraction of the country, what I did see was stunning landscape, friendly locals, and a different cultural experience. I learned a lot about the local culture there as well as a lot about my own culture in America. I realized that there are positives and negatives of both cultures thus; I intend to continue to incorporate aspects of both into my cultural spectrum. However, I treasure the friendships I made abroad most. My experiences in Australia would have been very different had the friendships I made been absent. Therefore, I am both thankful for all of my incredible memories as well as all of the life-long relationships I established in Australia.
Based on your experiences abroad, what are some of the benefits of spending a semester abroad? How has studying abroad contributed to your personal, academic, and professional development?
Spending a semester abroad has many benefits. The majority of my close friends studied abroad during fall 2011 so I was forced to make new friends in their absences. I think that helped prepare me to be open to new relationships when it was my turn to go abroad. I made a lot of amazing new friends which I believe will be in my life forever. School is very challenging in Australia. From the way the grading is done, to their final exams to other assessments, school was very different and at times discouraging. If nothing else, this fact encouraged me to use my time wisely and I believe that has prepared me well for senior year. As a psychology major, I tried my hand at social psychology to fulfill a major requirement. I really wanted to attempt a course in my major in Australia to see any differences. The differences were immense in fact. My Social Psychology class was very abstract and we focused on one key aspect for the entire semester. While I didn't enjoy the class very much, I learned a lot and I received a new approach to my field. I believe studying abroad will look good on applications and hopefully help me in receiving job offers in the future.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
I would encourage any student to study abroad. At times I was hesitant but looking back on my experience I wouldn't take any experiences away and have no regrets about my trip. I truly learned how to take advantage of any new opportunity. This new trait has helped me adjust back to life in America. I would advise students to have no regrets, take advantage of all possible opportunities, and to be present in every moment, for the trip will go by so quickly.